Benefits for Parkinson’s Syndrome Sufferer

Sarah Richards, a college-educated married mother of two, first noticed tremors in her left hand when she was 45. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Syndrome. She began treatment for the disorder and was able to continue her successful career as a financial analyst at a healthcare company for two more years, until she was terminated due to her inability to perform her duties. Her condition continued to worsen, and three years later, she filed for Social Security Disability benefits.

She was denied benefits at application and again at reconsideration. She then sought the help of Attorney Neil H. Good, who represented her at the Social Security Administration’s hearing. In his pre-hearing memo to the Administrative Law Judge, Attorney Good described her condition. Richards now had tremors in all four extremities. She had muscle stiffness and rigidity, and she experienced slowed and decreased body movement. She suffered muscle spasms and pain, and had impaired control of her extremities and impaired ability to perform rapid or successive movements. She also had difficulty walking, sitting, and standing. Her left foot dragged and Richards had difficulty performing fine and gross movements, especially those involved with activities of daily living, such as buttoning, zipping, and unlocking. She suffered from chronic and extreme fatigue. The muscle spasms and pain meant sleep loss.

In his ruling, the judge noted Richards’ excellent work history prior to her being let go, as well as her “well documented history of treatment.” The judge took into account the opinions of Richards’ doctors that her prognosis was poor and that she was incapable of even low-stress jobs. The judge set aside assessments from Social Security medical consultants that indicated she was not fully disabled. “Other medical opinions are more consistent with the records as a whole,” he said. The judge also considered Richards’ own reports that she needed help from her husband and son to cut her meat and to get dressed. Susan Richards was awarded Social Security Disability benefits.